The Posey Problem


Buster Posey has been ineffective with the sweep tag. A permanent change may be imminent. Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Buster Posey has been a Rookie of the Year, an All-Star, a Silver Slugger, an MVP and most importantly, a 2-time World Series Champion. Quite a resume right? So how on Earth could there be a problem here? The Giants are dealing with a banged up Angel Pagan and Brandon Belt missing from the lineup for the next few weeks. Until recently Panda was in hibernation, and the rotation has been inconsistent. Not you Huddy, you’ve been fantastic. So why harp on Buster Posey? Allow me to explain.

In the past week, Buster has had two plays at the plate where he failed to tag the runner. In both cases, the run allowed lead to a win for the other team. Big deal, the Giants are in first, right? Nope. The Giants have been playing great since their losing streak in April, but the Los Angeles Dodgers just haven’t been clicking. It’s hard to believe that they will fail to go on a run at some point this season. When they do go on a tear, the Giants will certainly want those two wins back.

Whether Posey isn’t blocking the plate because manager Bruce Bochy doesn’t want him getting injured a la 2011, or Posey is himself afraid of being run over again is one question. The answer is this: get someone else behind the plate. Hector Sanchez has been performing well as of late, and could see more starting time with Posey playing some first while Belt is out.

There has also been speculation that Posey should be playing 3rd base as well. Whichever corner infield position he takes, he is displacing another starter.

Posey is hitting .295 with 7 HR and 19 RBI thus far in 2014. Not quite his best work, but his RBI total is still good enough for 7th among catchers. The problem with moving Posey to 1st or 3rd is that his elite numbers as a catcher are middle-of-the-road at the corners. His 19 RBI would rank 14th among 3rd basemen, and 16th among 1st basemen. Hector Sanchez has 3 fewer RBI than Posey, in half the ABs this season.

The solution to this problem could come in the form of minor leaguer, Andrew Susac. Susac is thought to be the Giants’ catcher of the future and his ETA is this season. In Triple-A, Susac’s numbers are almost a mirror of Posey’s this season, but again, in roughly half the ABs. Whether he is ready later this season, or at the beginning of next year, Susac offers the Giants a great option.

With Pablo Sandoval looking for $100MM, the Giants would be wise to let him walk. In the offseason, get Posey a lot of work at 3rd base, and let him have the job in 2015, with Susac behind the dish and Belt at 1st. Why play Posey at 3rd if you just said he ranks 14th? By not catching, Posey’s legs will be stronger, and his power numbers will increase. He could concentrate on hitting and fielding, and not having to call a game as well.

For further emphasis, just look across the Bay to the Oakland Athletics and their new star, Josh Donaldson. The former catcher, turned 3rd baseman burst onto the national stage last season, and finished 4th in MVP voting. This season, his WAR is 2nd only to Troy Tulowitzki at 2.9.

Posey has the arm and the quick reflexes to play 3rd. He also wouldn’t have to block the base. In 2015, Buster Posey should have a new permanent position, and added life to his career.